Young naturalist Dara McAnulty is the youngest ever recipient of the RSPB Medal, an award previously presented to Sir David Attenborough.

Dara (15), a young naturalist, activist and writer who currently lives in Co. Down but spent a number of years living in Co. Fermanagh, during which time he started a blog titled ‘Young Fermanagh Naturalist’, has been awarded the RSPB Medal at the nature conservation charity’s AGM in recognition of his contributions to conservation.

A passionate campaigner for wildlife and nature, Dara received the award from Kevin Cox, Chairman of the RSPB Council, at the event at the QEII Centre in London at the weekend.

Dara commented that he was “incredibly honoured” and “deeply humbled” to be the youngest ever recipient of the RSPB Medal – an award previously given to high-profile recipients including Sir David Attenborough – and vowed that he will “never stop working for nature”.

He said: “When I was told I’d won the RSPB Medal, I thought it was a joke, I couldn’t believe that I deserved it. I was given a list of previous winners and made the mistake of looking at it. I have actually had the privilege of meeting three RSPB Medal holders: Professor Sir John Lawton – an incredible scientist and brave individual – MP Caroline Lucas and The Prince of Wales.”

Dara has said that his connection with nature and wildlife has helped him to live with Apserger’s Syndrome. He has inspired and engaged thousands of children and adults to speak up to campaign on issues including climate breakdown and the persecution of birds of prey.

He was also involved in the Youth Climate Strikes in September, which saw thousands of people take to the streets of cities across the UK – including an estimated 4,000 in Belfast – to demand action on climate breakdown.

Claire Barnett, RSPB NI Area Manager (East), said: “Every year we recognise those individuals who inspire us all to celebrate, discover and be amazed by our natural world. Dara has embodied all of that as he brings more of us closer to the wonderful species found in Northern Ireland.”

Dara, who is soon to publish a book titled ‘Diary of a Young Naturalist’, which is based on his popular blog, represents a new youth movement which recognises that they cannot and must not wait until adulthood to make their voices heard.

“I wouldn’t be getting this award without the immense support and encouragement I have received from my family, my community and the wildlife organisations I have volunteered for over the last few years,” said Dara, continuing: “Getting this award will, I hope, inspire and encourage other young people to be the change they wish to see in the world.

“There is still so much to do, though, so many obstacles in our way – but we must all rise to the job which is so essential to all life – to protect nature, our life support system, immediately,” he concluded.